Reflections on the once-thriving Jewish community of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia

The old synagogue in Glace Bay, which closed in 2010. (Photo by Abebenjoe/Wikimedia Commons)

Few Canadian Jewish communities have experienced such tumultuous changes as Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. In 1902, the coal mining town on the eastern edge of Cape Breton became the site of the first synagogue constructed in the Atlantic provinces. Over the years, Jewish workers shifted into retail and business, growing to several hundred families by the mid-20th century.

These trends held strong for decades, until the overall population of Glace Bay began to decline in the 1970s. The island’s oldest synagogue closed down in 2010, and many of its Jews ended up moving away.

On today’s episode of Yehupetzville, The CJN’s podcast about small-town Jewish communities, six Jews who grew up in Glace Bay join to share their memories of the once-thriving city, describe what antisemitism looked like and recall how Jewish shop owners formed a quiet alliance with striking coal miners.

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Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network—find more great Jewish podcasts at